What is art?

What is art?
A look at form and function
Tolstoy on Art
The destiny of art in our time is to transmit from the
realm of reason to the realm of feeling the truth that
well-being for men consists in their being united
together, and to set up, in place of the existing realm of
force, that kingdom of God--that is of love.
from War and Peace
For us with the standard of good and evil given by
Christ, no human actions are incommensurable. And
there is no greatness where simplicity, goodness, and
truth are absent.
Tolstoy’s Theory
Tolstoy's theory of art: Tolstoy rejected any definition
of art based on a conception of beauty. Since we have
no objective way of defining beauty, it merely becomes
defined as what pleases us, which is different for each
person. The only clear definition of art can lie in its
function, which is the transmission of feeling. Art can
then be judged on how well it transmits feelings
(infectiousness) and on the value of the feelings
transmitted (truth or goodness).
Form is one of the seven elements of art. At its most
basic, a form is a three-dimensional geometrical figure
(i.e.: sphere, cube, cylinder, cone, etc.), as opposed to a
shape, which is two-dimensional, or flat.
In a broader sense, form, in art, means the whole of a
piece's visible elements and the way those elements are
united. In this context, form allows us as viewers to
mentally capture the work, understand it and attempt
to analyze it.
The action for which a person or thing is specially
fitted or used or for which a thing exists
In art, "medium" refers to the substance the artist uses to
create his or her artwork. For example, the medium
Michelangelo used to create David was marble, Calder's
stabiles employ painted steel plates and Duchamp's
infamous Fountain had porcelain as its medium.
Far more commonly, you'll see notations following the titles
of paintings that read along the lines of:
"Gouache on paper"
"Tempera on board"
"Oil on canvas"
"Ink on bamboo"
Top Ten
The following works of art are among some of the most
popular in the world.
They have been made famous either by their creators
popularity or by their contribution to the artistic
movement of their time period.
The Creation of Adam
Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Michaelangelo -- 1512
The Birth of Venus
Sandro Botticelli -- 1486
Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci -- 1517
Water Lilies
Claude Monet -- 1899
Starry Night
Vincent Van Gogh -- 1889
Michaelangelo – 1504
The Scream
Edvard Munch
Les Demoiselles
d'Avignon (1907),
Pablo Picasso
The women being intruded upon by the small
still-life at the bottom of frame are actually
prostitutes in a brothel. An early study for the
painting featured a medical student entering
from the left to make his selection for the night,
but Picasso wisely decided to leave him out in
the final composition, leaving only Avignon in
the title as a clue to his subject's origin: It's the
name of a street in the artist's native Barcelona,
famous for its cathouses.
Gold Marilyn Monroe (1962), Andy Warhol
No Warhol demonstrates the artist's
worship of glamour better than this
painting, created the year Monroe
died in an apparent suicide. It is the
altarpiece in Andy's Pop Art church of
celebrity. But by the same token, the
work also speaks to Warhol's
background as an observant Catholic;
it wouldn't look all that out of place at
St. Peter's Basilica in Rome or at St.
Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue,
where Warhol regularly attended mass
(sans wig). The image is based on a
publicity still for the film Niagara, in
which Monroe played opposite Joseph
Cotton as an unhappily married
woman, plotting the murder of her
The Piano Lesson (1916), Henri Matisse
One of the artist's most personal
pieces, The Piano Lesson shows
Matisse's son Pierre at the keyboard.
It's a composition about space, but
also about time, as it echoes again and
again the pyramidal shape of the
metronome on the piano---in the band
of green slicing across a casement to
the left, and in the shadow falling
across Pierre's face. He is set between
two of his father's works depicting
females, the matronly Woman on a
High Stool and a small sculpture of a
sensuous, reclining nude. More than a
simple description of a family life, The
Piano Lesson serves as a meditation on
manhood, and one boy's impending
introduction to it.
Drowning Girl (1963), Roy Lichtenstein
Lichtenstein's Pop icon is at once
a coolly ironic deconstruction of
pulp melodrama and a formally
dynamic---even moving--composition, thanks largely to the
interplay of the subject's hair
(swept into a perfect Mad Men--era
coif) and the waves (which seem
to have wandered in from a
Hokusai print) threatening her.
The image, a crop from a panel in
an early-'60s comic book titled
Run for Love!, shows that
Lichtenstein's in full command of
his style, employing not only by
his well-known Ben-Day dots, but
also bold black lines corralling
areas of deep blue. It's a complete
The Persistence of Memory (1931),
Salvador Dal
Dal described his meticulously
rendered works as "hand-painted
dream photographs," and
certainly, the melted watches that
make their appearance in this
Surrealist masterpiece have
become familiar symbols of that
moment when reverie seems to
uncannily invade the everyday.
The coast of the artist's native
Catalonia serves as the backdrop
for this landscape of time, in
which infinity and decay are held
in equipoise. As for the odd
rubbery creature in the center of
the composition, it is the artist
himself, or rather his profile,
stretched and flattened like Silly
Untitled (1961), Lee
In the macho scene of postwar
American art, Bontecou was a
rare female presence, but when it
came to making tough work, she
could keep up with the boys and
then some. This piece is made
with industrial canvas salvaged
from a conveyor belt that had
been tossed out on the street by a
laundry located below the artist's
East Village apartment. The
glowering form---suggesting a
wormhole into some dimension
of Cold War terror, or an eyepiece
from a gas mask---was achieved by
stretching fabric across a steel
Hip Hop
Valentine Chmerkovkiy
and Kelly Monaco
Dancing With the Stars
Ballroom Dancing
CrossFit Games
CrossFit Competition
Disney – L.A.
Pulitzer Winner 2013
Pulitzer Winner 2013
Pulitzer Winner 1945
Pulitzer Winner 1969
Pulitzer Winner 1971
Pulitzer Winner 1996
Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams
Graphic Novels
Comic Art
Tattoo Art
Humans have marked their bodies with
tattoos for thousands of years. These
permanent designs—sometimes plain,
sometimes elaborate, always personal—
have served as amulets, status symbols,
declarations of love, signs of religious
beliefs, adornments and even forms of
First Tattoos
In terms of tattoos on actual
bodies, the earliest known
examples were for a long time
Egyptian and were present on
several female mummies dated to
c. 2000 B.C.
But following the more recent
discovery of the Iceman from the area
of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991
and his tattoo patterns, this date has
been pushed back a further thousand
years when he was carbon-dated at
around 5,200 years old.
Art expressing art…. This
tattoo exemplifies
characters from Tolkein’s
Lord of the Rings.
“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

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